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#Tip: Useful tools for digital newsrooms in 2014

January 13th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Multimedia, Top tips for journalists
Image by JM. Some rights reserved.

Image by JM. Some rights reserved.

NewsWhip has put together a list of tools to help digital journalists brush up on their skills and stay ahead of the game this year.

The list of 10 tools every digital newsroom should be using in 2014 includes lots of useful tips for gathering, curating and visualising content.

Items on the list include the Storyful multisearch Chrome plug-in, which allows you to search multiple social networks from your browser bar, and Datawrapper, a quick and simple tool for visualising data.

Other tools include Google image search for verification and of course NewsWhip’s own social news monitoring platform, Spike.

We’ve also put together our own list of essential skills for journalists to hone in 2014. Online journalists can learn more about new digital skills and developments at our news:rewired  conference on Thursday 20 February, 2014.

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#Tip: Download these storyboard templates

October 14th, 2013 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Multimedia, Top tips for journalists

The visual nature of the web means that video is becoming a central aspect of a news organisation’s output, even if they have traditionally been focussed on print.

These storyboard templates from Printable Paper can help to plan a story or a shoot in visual terms and are just as useful for filming as they are for web design or interactives.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.
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#Tip: Advice on creating 15-second Instagram videos

September 18th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Multimedia, Top tips for journalists
By Das-Fotoimaginarium on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

By Das-Fotoimaginarium on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Here are “11 practical, use-them-right-now tips that will help you produce better Instagram videos“.

Wondering how much journalistic value there is in producing 15-second videos? Read this on how NowThis News is producing ‘instaview’ videos, offering soundbite answers from an interview.

The Instagram video tips offered include:

Hold your finger over your phone’s microphone if you don’t want sound when shooting a clip within the app.


Keep several standard clips on your phone for when you need to create on the go.

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#Tip: Learn how to make YouTube work for you

By dominicotine on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

By dominicotine on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

The role of video in online journalism is becoming increasingly important and, aside from the basics of filming and editing, there are other ways to make video content more effective online.

YouTube channels can be a successful way to find and engage with an audience, whether for your blog, magazine or news outlet, and at their free-to-join Creator Academy there are lessons on using YouTube to the full. The current course, on how to “maximise your channel”, comprises six lessons on a “self-paced” format.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.
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#Podcast: New ventures in interactive video

July 26th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Online Journalism, Podcast

This week’s podcast looks at how different news organisations are using interactive video as a means for telling different types of stories, and the broader themes regarding the internet, content and interactivity.

We speak to:

  • Neal Mann, multimedia innovations editor, the Wall Street Journal
  • Jarrard Cole, multimedia producer, the Wall Street Journal,
  • Frederik Neus, head of business development, Zentrick
  • Ben Fogarty, managing executive, Shorthand
  • Mark Bryson, creative director of visual journalism, BBC News
  • Amanda Farnsworth, editor of visual journalism, BBC News
You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the iTunes podcast feed.
You might also be interested in:


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#Tip: Brush up on guidelines and skills to cover council meetings live

Video camera Flickr credit

Image by jsawkins on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Earlier this month new guidance was issued by secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles, which highlighted the rights of the public – and also reporters and citizen journalists therefore – to cover public council meetings on social media and on video. Journalists may find it valuable to take a look at these before they head to the next council meeting. It is also worth taking a look at this post from March by Richard Kendall, who is digital content and social media editor for the Peterborough Telegraph, which offers some useful tips on how to approach live coverage of council meetings.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.
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#Tip: How to do a multitrack edit on your iPhone

voddio mobile reporting


If you are a broadcast journalist or create podcasts, you are no doubt familiar with multitrack editing on a desktop computer. But do you do complicated audio edits on your phone?

One app which allows you to do this is Voddio, made by Vericorder, which we have written about several times at

Voddio and it is used by BBC 5 Live reporter Nick Garnett (who has become known as “the iPhone guy”, he tells me).

Neal Augustein, a US radio reporter, has created a video guide to using Voddio.

The four-minute video guide is at this link.

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#editors13: Presentation on Snow Fall-like multimedia stories

June 4th, 2013 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Multimedia


This afternoon I gave a presentation at the World Editors Forum in Bangkok. Here are my slides, notes, and links to further examples and resources.

1. Title

My name is Sarah Marshall and I am technology editor at, a news site reporting on innovations in the digital news space.

2. Logos
We run a digital journalism conference called news:rewired.

The title of this talk is ‘new wave storytelling’ and I want to talk to you about why we should be ‘thinking outside the box’. So what do I mean by the box?

Take a look at these three news stories – about David Beckham’s retirement. What do you see? Remove the mastheads and they all look the same: picture and text or video and text – each one uses inverted triangle way of telling a news story.

5. Box
Where magazines use powerful images and text to tell stories, the technological limitations of the digital space – and the CMS – mean that stories are generally told in within a box.

6. Open box
More recently we have seen that box opening up, news sites have been moving beyond the article, they have been breaking article boundaries. We are seeing new innovations in web-native storytelling.

7. Snow Fall video
The most famous example is Snow Fall. Snow Fall is an immersive reading experience.

It is about a deadly avalanche which claimed the lives of three very experienced skiers.

It is a 17,000 word feature told with the help of videos, moving graphics, picture slideshows, the recordings of 911 calls.

John Branch, the sports reporter who wrote it, won a Pulitzer for the words.

It took six months. John worked alone for one month, and then the second month was working alongside a videographer and photojournalist. His bosses at the New York Times saw the potential to make something extra special.

During the six months while Snow Fall was being worked on, there were some pretty major news stories to cover: the Olympics, Hurricane Sandy and the presidential elections.

And the Snow Fall effect? Six days after publication the story had received 2.9 million visits. Up to 22,000 users visited Snow Fall at any given time. A quarter to a third of the hits were from new visitors to

9. Tweets
Six months on and it has been tweeted 10,000 times.

10. Facebook
And it’s has been shared more than 77,000 times on Facebook.

11. Clock
And the average time on site? 12 minutes. Any of you who check analytics on a daily basis will know that’s a lot.

Now if you have read Snow Fall, you will know that it takes a lot longer than that.

It took me about two or two-and-a-half hours.

So arguably a lot of people just looked at the whizzy graphics and fewer people went on the full journey.

Plenty of digital column inches have been written about Snow Fall. There has been criticism – and there has been praise.

12. Om Malik
Om Malik called it “one of the first truly post-tablet reading experiences”.

And it is interesting he said tablet. That, I would argue, is the best place to read Snow Fall. It makes you want to press play on the videos, on the audio, it makes you want to scroll.

And am I going to spend two-and-a-half hours sitting upright looking at my desktop?

Before we come onto some other examples, let’s think about how well the multimedia presentation works as a storytelling device.

13. Gallery
Have you ever been to an art gallery or museum and not known whether to first look at the art or artefact or read the caption? I was conscious that this might be the case with Snow Fall. Should I read to the end of the next paragraph or play the video now? A decision can be disruptive.

But for me Snow Fall did a pretty good job. In the same way a well-curated museum or gallery will lead the viewer by the hand, Snow Fall too achieved this on the whole.

And design is hugely helpful.

14. Aron Pilhofer
Aron Pilhofer from the New York Times mocked up what Snow Fall would look like if it was presented in the usual format. You can see why design matters.

The New York Times may have received much of the attention, but there are now lots of examples of news sites telling stories out side of the box.

15. Firestorm
Here is how the Guardian launched Guardian Australia last week. This is Firestorm, a multimedia project which provides a seamless and immersive experience.

It’s about a bushfire in Tasmania which destroyed a family’s house. They saved themselves by getting in the water under a jetty.

The Guardian has done a fantastic job here. Remember how I talked about the gallery or museum experience and having to decide where to go next? The Guardian leads the reader through, taking them on the journey.

16. Daft Punk
This example is from music site Pitchfork.

You’ll be starting to see by now that there are some common features of these ‘beyond the article’-type stories. There’s often moving graphics, there is video, attractive typefaces.

17. Chicago Tribune
And this is an example from the Chicago Tribune.

18. ESPN
And here we have ESPN. Another common trait is that these multimedia presentations are all long-form, thousands of words, probably because of the investment of time in coding, they’ve chosen in-depth investigations or features.

19. Mobile
All of the examples we have seen so far are how they appear on a desktop. But I said earlier, perhaps the reader wants to lean back with a tablet device or perhaps read on their a mobile.

20. Bat for Lashes
And while this example, again from Pitchfork, works on the desktop…

21. Bat for Lashes tablet
It is more problematic on a tablet, particularly on 3G where it is jumpy.

22. Bat for Lashes mobile
And if you view this story on a mobile, you are delivered a simple, single column story.

Pitchfork’s audience is young and highly mobile. Therefore a proportion of the audience will not be getting the full experience that Pitchfork has invested in.

But I don’t want to be too critical of those innovating in the newsroom.

23. Washington Post
Elsewhere and the Washington Post recently published a multimedia story called The Prophets of Oak Ridge. It has been designed for desktop, tablet and mobile as the site is fully responsive.

24. Advertising
So I know what some of you are thinking. How does this digital stuff – which may take 6 months to build and require designers, developers, photojournalists, videographers, oh and someone to write the tens of thousands of words – pay for itself?

25. Snow Fall
You might have noticed that Snow Fall includes advertising – including advertising a subscription of the New York Times.

Om Malik has argued that it would be better to have Land Rover ads in there or something more topical.

Those of you here who are responsible for the bottom line probably understand why that decision was taken to put ads in.

26. Mark Thompson
But when Mark Thomspon, chief executive of the Times saw Snow Fall he did question the decision.

And of course what the New York Times got was an amazing branding experience.

More than 10,000 people were tweeting, most of them saying how amazing this thing was that the New York Times had created.

So arguably you can keep such a presentation outside the paywall, leave ads out and use it as a branding opportunity to show the news outlet’s potential.

You could of course do it in conjunction with sponsorship. But a ski company or Land Rover? It might jar. After all, Snow Fall was reporting on an accident and three people died.

27. Washington Post
Elsewhere and the Washington Post has opted for a pre-roll ad.

28. Chicago Tribune
And the Chicago Tribune uses multimedia to entice new subscribers. This one is outside the paywall, but readers are promised more of the same if they sign up and pay.

29. e-books
And the Guardian and New York Times are selling Firestorm and Snowfall as ebooks.

30. New York Times
So, I bet some of you are thinking, “it’s all very well the Grey Lady spending six months on Snow Fall, but they are the New York Times and have the staff and the money”.

It will no doubt get easier and quicker to create such stories which break article boundaries.

Indeed the new Newsweek site – NewsBeast – is said to follow this type of design.

31. Scroll Kit
In fact there are more DIY options already available. This is Scroll Kit, it’s like InDesign for the browser.

You can drag images around, videos and create a multimedia experience with no coding skills.

There’s also a tool which launched last month called Soo Meta.

32. Nasa

And I want to leave you with a final thought. What have these three things have in common? A Black and Decker Dustbuster, memory foam, and, this may give it a way slightly, it’s freeze dried ice-cream.

They were all spin-offs or by-products of NASA inventions.

So my final thought for you, and it is actually not my own but one suggested to me by Benji Lanyado, a journalist and freelance creator of such visuals and multimedia products.

His view is that if you spend the time, effort and resources one one project and start thinking beyond the article, you’ll be able to re-use some of the code, you’ll be able to create other such stories more easily and quickly – and there will be other spin-offs for your news outlet.

Thank you. I’m sharing a link here. I’ve put together a list of stories – such as Snow Fall, Firestorm and there’s one from The Verge – which you can explore.

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#Podcast: The rise of microvideo in online news

May 10th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Multimedia, Podcast

The rising tide of microvideo apps for smartphones is an increasing feature in online and mobile news reporting. This podcast looks at what is driving this change, some of the different platforms being used and what this could potentially mean for how news is received and reported in online and mobile forms in the future.

We speak to:

  • Michael Downing, founder and CEO, Tout
  • Jim Brady, editor-in-chief, Digital First Media
  • Neha Manaktala, chief operations officer, Vizibee
  • Marc Settle, trainer in mobile journalism, BBC College of Journalism
  • Michael Anastasi, vice president and executive editor, Los Angeles Newspaper Group

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the iTunes podcast feed.

We will have more on next week from the podcast interviewees on this subject.

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#Tip: Watch video of social video panel from Social Media Summit

Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

The BBC College of Journalism has posted video on YouTube of a panel on creating social video, which was held at the Social Media Summit in New York last month.

The panel featured Roy Sekoff, president and co-creator of HuffPost Live, Katherine Zaleski, managing editor of NowThis News and Olivia Ma, head of news and media partnerships at Google+. Watch the video below to hear more about some of the different approaches being taken in making video a more social experience for news consumers, across platforms.

And here’s more on HuffPost Live as well as NowThisNews, on their approaches to social video,

Hat tip: Paul Bradshaw, who also posted the video on his Tumblr

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